Caroll Spinney, the legendary puppeteer who captivated young audiences for nearly 50 years as Sesame Street's Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, has died. He was 85 years old.
The puppeteer had been "living with dystonia for some time," according to a press release from Sesame Workshop.
"Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending," Sesame Workshop said in a statement.
"His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while," the statement added.
“Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are countless. He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he gave so much of himself as well," Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney said in the statement. "We at Sesame Workshop mourn his passing and feel an immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world.”
Spinney won five Daytime Emmys as a puppeteer with the legendary show, and even earned his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as Big Bird.